Sony's new Xperia Z4 tablet aims to take on iPad and Surface

Sony Mobile Xperia Z3

Sony has launched an Android tablet that doubles as a laptop when connected to a keyboard accessory, despite announcing the end of its long-running laptop line in 2014.

The new Xperia Z4 tablet, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is a slimmer, lighter and more powerful follow up to the Z2 tablet released in May and claims to be the thinnest and lightest 10in tablet at 6.1mm thick and 392g.

The tablet runs Android Lollipop software and has a high-resolution 2K screen, which is the brightest 10in 2K screen of any device yet at 500 candela, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. It also has a claimed 17-hour video playback time and runs by Qualcomm’s latest 64bit octocore Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

It is waterproof, using internal seals rather than small external covers to allow exposed USB and headphone sockets.

Sony has also made a removable Bluetooth keyboard accessory into which the tablet slots, turning it into an Android-powered laptop that includes a trackpad, “chiclet” keys which give space around each key, custom control buttons and a hinge to hold the screen at an adjustable angle.

When clipped into the keyboard dock a menu bar pops up, reminiscent of the Windows Start menu, as well as a task bar.

“We wanted to make the tablet into a better work companion,” Jun Makino, Sony’s senior product marketing manager told the Guardian. “One of the key demands has been lightness and slimness, so it’s easy to carry around and hold; but also battery life so that it lasts a productive day.”

The Xperia Z4 marks the Sony’s first return to a more business-focused product since it pulled out of the laptop market, having sold its Vaio PC business in February 2014 after 17 years. Whether Android is capable of delivering a useful laptop-style computer remains to be seen. Others, including HP with its SlateBook line, have tried in the past.

Sony also launched a re-invigorated mid-range smartphone with the Xperia M4 Aqua, which apes the company’s well-received flagship Xperia Z3 smartphone with a waterproof design, 13-megapixel camera and 5in screen, but costing less than half the price at €300 (£220).

Both the M4 Aqua and the Z4 tablet will be available in spring 2015.

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